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Death of a U.S. Citizen

The death of a loved one can be a traumatic experience.  When a loved one dies it can be a traumatic experience no matter where it takes place.  Where a death happens overseas in a different culture with a different language, the loss can be even more difficult to deal with for family and friends.  We stand ready to help you if a U.S. citizen family member dies in Japan.

Our Role

– Receive notification from local authority (police, hospital, etc.) or family members.

– Confirm the death, identity, and U.S. citizenship of the deceased.

– Attempt to locate and notify the next of kin.

  • Who is the next of kin? The following relatives are listed in the order we use:
  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Grandparents
  6. Aunts/uncles
  7. Cousins

– Issue a Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad and send an electronic copy to the next of kin or legal representative for possible use in settling estate matters in the U.S.

– Coordinate with the local funeral home contracted by the next of kin or a legal representative to issue documents like a Consular Mortuary Certificate, if applicable.

Information for Family Living in Japan

Information for Family Not in Japan

Funeral Homes in Japan – Mortuary Arrangements

Consular Report of Death Abroad

General Timelines

Transporting the Cremated Remains with You to the U.S.

Grief Counseling

 

Information for Family Living in Japan

  1. Report the Death to the Local Japanese Authority

You will need to file a notification of death (Shibotodoke) with the responsible municipal office within seven days.  You will also need to apply for a Certificate of Permission for Burial or Cremation (Maiso Kaso Kyoasho) at the same time.  In many instances, a mortuary service in Japan can help you deal with the paperwork.

  1. Report the Death to the Embassy or the Consulate

Please contact  here if you do not know which Embassy/Consulate to contact.

  • Name of the deceased person
  • Date and place of birth
  • Passport number
  • Date and place of death
  • Cause of death, if available
  • Location of the remains
  • Disposition of the remains, if decided (e.g., cremated, embalmed)
  • Full name, phone number, e-mail address of the next of kin

We will provide guidance for obtaining the Consular Report of Death Abroad to the family.

Please read here for details on Consular Report of Death Abroad.

Deaths of U.S. military members should be reported to the appropriate branch of service, not to the Embassy.

 

Information for Family Not in Japan

  1. Communicate with the Embassy or Consulate

In cases where we learn of the death of a U.S. citizen in Japan, we will determine who is the next of kin of the deceased and contact that person by telephone as quickly as possible.

If you received a notification from any source other than the Embassy/Consulate, please contact the Embassy or the Consulate nearest to the place of death and inform us of the death.  We will provide guidance for obtaining the Consular Report of Death Abroad to the family.  See here if you do not know which Embassy/Consulate to contact.

  1. Decisions for the Next of Kin

  Generally, it is best if the next of kin\travels to Japan, as it helps facilitate the local death procedures.

The next of kin will need to arrange for the disposition of the remains.  There is no Japanese law stipulating  that remains must be interred within a certain amount of time. However, the scarcity and high expense of refrigerated storage facilities dictate that the disposition of remains be completed as quickly as possible.

Here are some options for the disposition of your loved one’s remains. . Please note all costs listed here are estimates, and are subject to change, and funeral homes are unable to begin work until they have payment in hand. The varying exchange rate will also affect these estimates:

  • Cremation in Japan and Burial/Disposition in Japan
    The cost for cremation and disposition of ashes in Japan is approximately $31,650. Please note that burial of ashes in the Tokyo area is virtually impossible because of the scarcity of plots.
  • Cremation in Japan and Burial/Disposition in the United States/Other Country
    The cost for preparation, cremation and air shipment of ashes to the United States is approximately $6,200. (Cremation fee is approx. $2,000 – $3,000. If someone is hand-carrying the ashes back, there is no additional fee.)  For the cost of shipping cremated remains to countries other than the United States, please consult with the funeral home you decide to work with.
  • Embalming in Japan and Burial/Disposition in the United States/Other Country
    Should you decide to have the remains returned to the U.S. for burial, the cost will be substantially greater due to the high expense of air freight and embalming.  The total cost for preparation and air shipment to the U.S. is approximately $14,000. Unfortunately, there is no space available for burial of uncremated remains in the Tokyo area.  For the cost of shipping remains to countries other than the United States, please consult with the funeral home you decide to work with.

If you choose to ship remains back to the United States, please note that preparation and air shipment are carried out in accordance with the laws of Japan and in some cases, the services fall short of those expected in the U.S.

Your loved one’s remains will need to be received in the U.S. by a licensed funeral home. You will need to make arrangements for receipt with the funeral director of your choice in the United States.

You can find the guidance for shipment of human remains from the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC)  here.

Please see Mortuary Arrangements in Tokyo for a list of local funeral homes.

If it is not feasible for the next of kin or a family member to travel to Japan, please  prepare  the Letter of Instruction (PDF 12 KB) and the Affidavit for the Surviving Spouse or Next of Kin, and send them to the Embassy/Consulate.

 

Mortuary Arrangements in Japan

The Department of State has no funds to assist in the return of remains or ashes of U.S. citizens who die abroad. The family or legal representative must pay all funeral home charges, shipping costs for the remains and personal effects (if applicable), and carry out funeral arrangements with assistance from the contracted funeral home.

While you are free to contact any funeral home you wish, and while we cannot endorse any private business, we are aware of several firms in Japan that can assist in English and which have provided adequate embalming services in the past.

DISCLAIMER:The U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians and other service providers.

Sapporo Area

  • NK Hokkaido (Hokkaido Embalming Center)
    8-31, Kitago 3-jo 11-chome, Shiroishi-ku, Sapporo 003-0833
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-11-879-5000 (Phone, Japanese only)

Tokyo Area

  • Airhearse International Inc. 
    305A-1, No. 1 International Cargo Bldg., 2-6-3 Haneda-kuko,
    Ota-ku, Tokyo 144-0041
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-3-6459-9509
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-3-6459-9510
    Email: 1ahiops@airhearse.com 
    Chief Operating Officer/President: Rie Kimura
    Service Areas: Throughout Japan
  • Funeral Support Services Co. Ltd.
    1620-56-101 Okazu-cho, Izumi-ku
    Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 245-0003
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-45-392-7316
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-45-345-4571
    Email: info@funeralsupport.co.jp 
    President: Robert Hoey
    Service Areas: Throughout Japan
  • GSI Co., Ltd. 
    Koike Bldg. 4F, 1-21-1 Shinkawa, Kayabacho Tower Residences #1806
    Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0033
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-3-6280-3468
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-3-6280-3469
    Email: gsi-info@griefsupport.co.jp
    Service Areas: Tokyo.  Please contact GSI Co., Ltd. about the services in other areas.
  • International Mortuary Systems Inc. (IMS)
    5-17-3 3F Shiba Kawaguchi-shi, Saitama-ken 333-0866
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-48-261-3302
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-48-262-2120
    Email: imsj01@alphaclub.co.jp
    Admin: Megumi Tsukamoto
    Service Areas: Tokyo and its vicinity
  • International Transportation Service
    Your Loved One Corp. (ITSYOURLOVEDONE  CORP.) 

    1753-1373 Hirai, Kannami-cho, Tagata-gun, Shizuoka-ken 419-0107
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-55-919-5859   Cell: 011-81-90-3372-5564
    Email: info@itsyourlovedone.com President: Shoji Konishi
    2nd Email: shojifukui9@gmail.com President: Shoji Konishi
  • Ohata Shoji Co., Ltd.
    3-15-2 Minamishinozakimachi
    Edogawa-ku, Tokyo 133-0065
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-3-6638-6717
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-3-6638-6727
    Email: info@oohata-shoji.co.jp
    Service Areas: Throughout Japan
  • Santoku Funeral Parlor Co., Ltd. 
    2-17-3-504 Nihonbashi Kayaba-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0025
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-3-3527-2202
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-3-6810-8582
    Email: 2NB4A@toccata.plala.or.jp
    Director: Tetsuya Koizumi
    Service Areas: Tokyo
  • SOU-CEREMONY Inc.
    Embalming Office 
     (PDF 1.26 MB)
    32-1 Shinminato, Mihama-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba-ken 261-0002
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-43-244-7761
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-43-244-7792
    Email: emba-office@sou-ceremoney.co.jp 
    Interpreter: Noriko Mitsutake
    Service Areas: Chiba including Narita, part of Tokyo, Ibaraki and Tochigi
  • Suncelmo Co., Ltd.
    1-1-35 Shibadaimon, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0012
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-3-5746-0211
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-3-3436-1005
  • Teitotenrei Funeral Services Co., Ltd. 
    5F Shinjuku East Square Bldg.,
    2-16-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-3-3353-6311
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-3-3353-5242
    Email: shougaibu-1@teitotenrei.co.jp
    Service Areas: Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama (Airports: Narita and Haneda).  Please contact Teitotenrei Funeral Services about the services in other areas.
  • Todaisha Co. Ltd.
    1-3-6-28 Kamisuna-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo 190-0032
    Tel from the U.S.: 011-81-42-537-8994
    Email: info@toudaisha.net   President: Shuhei Matsuki
    Service Areas: Throughout Japan

Osaka Area (Aichi)

  • NOIRI Co., Ltd.
    11 Aza Masakiyama, Asano, Ichinomiya, Aichi 391-0871
    Tel from the U.S: 011-81-586-0948
    Fax from the U.S: 011-81-586-24-0952
    Email: info@noiri.co.jp
    Service Areas: Aichi, Gifu and Mie

Naha Area

If your loved one had travel insurance (sometimes associated with a credit card) you may wish to contact the insurance company to find out if any death-related expenses are covered.

 

Consular Report of Death Abroad
The Embassy prepares Consular Reports of Death Abroad (CRODA) for U.S. citizens who die in Japan, with the exception of U.S. citizens associated with the military.  We send the electronic copy to the next of kin or legal representative. This certificate is based on the Japanese death certificate and is valid for use in the United States. In addition, we will prepare a Consular Mortuary Certificate if the remains are to be shipped to the United States.

As the Report of Death can only be issued after Japanese authorities complete their documentation of the death, we anticipate an interval of about two to three days after the Japanese authorities complete their work before the Report of Death can be issued. The original will be sent to the Department of State for permanent filing.

Some U.S. insurance companies, other agencies, and courts in the United States request information on our legal authority to issue such reports. That authority is contained in 22 U.S. Code 4196; 22 Code of Federal Regulations 72.1.

For more details on the Consular Report of Death, please visit the State Department’s travel site .

 

General Timelines

Many factors can impact the amount of time it takes to prepare your loved one’s remains for return to the United States.

Here are some estimated d timeframes for each step of the process. We roughly estimate that the entire process may take approximately one week.

  • Japanese law requires at least 24 hours from the time of death until cremation or embalming may begin.
  • The police may withhold permission to cremate or embalm for as long as necessary if they believe the death was the result of a crime that they need to investigate. This investigation may in some instances require an autopsy, which by itself may require one or more days.
  • Embalming or cremation may take several days depending on the location of the remains and the schedule of the mortuary company.
  • Properly prepared cremated remains may be hand-carried by the next of kin on a commercial flight. Embalmed remains must be transported as cargo, and require processing by the Japanese ground handling company employed by all airlines serving Japan. The arrangements for shipping may take several days.
  • Embalmed remains must be turned over to a licensed mortician at the airport in the U.S. If the mortician in the United States is unable to meet a flight, the shipment must be delayed so that it arrives in the U.S. at a time when your chosen mortician can meet the incoming flight.
  • In some cases, no space may be available on outgoing flights for embalmed remains, which can result in delays.
  • The paperwork necessary from the Embassy or consulates can typically be issued within one business day once we have the proper documentation from the Japanese authorities.

 

Transporting the Cremated Remains with You to the U.S.

Visit the TSA website  for information on traveling with crematory remains.

Grief Counseling

The death of a loved one is a terrible blow. Many times, family and friends find it helpful to speak with someone about their feelings, and to gain advice on how to deal emotionally with the death. For those in Japan, fee-based counseling in English is available. Please visit our “Sources of Help” page for a list of counseling services.

 

Disposition of Remains Report